My work in issue advocacy is what I love to do most. It’s the work that brings me the greatest personal satisfaction, because I thrive on the hope that I can make a difference through my words and actions.
Healthcare advocacy is the issue dearest to my heart. I have the good fortune to work in this arena — advocating for quality, affordable healthcare and educating people so they can make informed decisions — nearly every day. That, in itself, is its own reward.
But I can’t deny the immense pride that comes from tangible proof that my efforts have made an impact. Which is why I’m so honored to be named a 2014 Health Care Hero by MICHUHCAN (Michigan Universal Health Care Access Network), for my use of communications to advocate for Medicaid expansion in Michigan.
MICHUHCAN has been doing excellent work since long before the Affordable Care Act (ACA) became law, and their outreach into the community extends far beyond any single piece of legislation. The respect I have for their tireless advocacy makes this award even more meaningful.
They honored me for my use of social media, particularly the blog posts I wrote for Eclectablog, to make Michiganders aware of the facts about Medicaid expansion — and the compelling need for the legislation to pass to improve the health of Michigan’s people and economy. Lives are saved when people have access to healthcare, and the passage of Medicaid expansion in Michigan means some 450,000 previously uninsured Michiganders can now receive care.
I certainly didn’t do it alone. Organizations like MICHUHCAN, Michigan Consumers for Healthcare, Enroll America and the Michigan Nurses Association were advocating right along with me, and helped me find the facts I shared and the stories I told. Chris Savage of Eclectablog was a hero, too, for providing a platform to amplify my voice, as were the people who shared their personal stories.
I’m more motivated than ever to continue telling those stories, to continue educating and advocating, because the work is far from done. There’s still much more to do before every American has the healthcare they need and deserve, before the full vision of healthcare reform becomes a reality. But our progress so far is cause to celebrate, and I’m proud to have played a part in it.
I’d like to congratulate my fellow honorees, who each made a significant contribution to the passage of Medicaid expansion in Michigan, known as the Healthy Michigan Plan: State Senator Vincent Gregory, Director of the Michigan Department of Community Health James K. Haveman and Director of the St. Peters Free Clinic Jill Pavka.
I’ll be collaborating with MICHUHCAN moving forward, starting with a project focused on improving health literacy. I’m grateful for the opportunity to raise my voice in the service of improving the health and lives of people everywhere.